Sunday, August 15, 2010

David D. Brough

Years Served: 1895 to 1896

David D. Brough graduated from Harvard in 1893. Mayor Josiah Quincy appointed him the city’s 14th Port Physician on December 5, 1895 after Francis A. Lane resigned to return to private practice. He inspected 1,038 vessels in 1896, one of the greatest number of vessel inspections in the 19th century. During this same period he and his staff vaccinated 1,014 passengers and made sweeping improvements to the poor waster supply system that he inherited from Dr. Lane. He used convict labor to fix building foundations, repair the seawall and other sundry work all of which was provided to him at no charge by the Deer Island institution about a mile away. Brough was used to having convict labor to support his activities and he relied on Captain George T. Ranlett, the quarantine steamer’s captain to supervise their activities.

Under Dr. Brough’s direction, the city installed a new six inch water line was laid between Long Island and Gallop’s Island. The pipe was buried five feet below the seabed to avoid further damage to the line caused by Master’s with the habit of dragging their anchors. Living remote from urban life, Brough counted on his staff to maintain a full fledged farm to feed his staff and quarantine patients. During 1895, F.L. Blanchard, the Island’s Overseer produced 120 bushels of potatoes, 125 bushels of carrots, 63 bushels of beets, 19 bushels of turnips, 3 bushels of parsnips, 15 bushels of tomatoes, 10 bushels of onions, 400 pumpkins, 300 cabbages, 125 squash and 3 tons of hay.

The work of keeping Gallop’s Island a cost effective operation had to wear on him after a while. There were no public services like were found in the city of Boston so it took a hardy individual to stay on the island for any length of time. He did not remain in that position for more than a year, resigning on December 7, 1896 and accepting the post of Medical Director, a title assigned in lieu of City Physician due to an ongoing controversy between the Mayor and Samuel Durgin, Chairman of the Board of Health, over the authority to hire and fire this position.

Brough was interested in medical research and published an article titled, “Formaldehyde Gas a disinfectant” in the Medical Communications of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He was listed as a medical inspector for the City’s Health Department prior to 1904 when he was appointed Chief Medical Inspector for the city. In 1910 he advocated that those suffering from laryngeal and pulmonary tuberculosis be registered to better control this disease. In 1917 he was appointed deputy health commissioner of Boston, succeeding Thomas B. Shea. Dr. Brough died at the age of 55 in 1921 during his service to the Boston Board of Health.

1. Boston City Documents, Twenty Fourth Annual Report of the Health Department of the City of Boston, for the year 1895, Boston, 1896, pp. 114-119.

2. Medical Notes, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 135, No. 25, December 17, 1896, p. 632; Dr. Shea Named Medical Director on the Board of Health, Dr. David D. Brough promoted to Dr. Shea’s Place, Boston Daily Globe, December 10, 1896. p. 1.

3. Book Notices, JAMA, Vol. 31: No. 20, November 2, 1898, p. 1186-1187.

4. Medical News, JAMA, Vol. 54, No.8, January 18, 1904, p. 1630.

5. Medical News, February 19, 1910, p. 620.

6. Alumni Notes, Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 19, February 8, 1917, p. 595

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